I think I can say without fear of contradiction that moving all the recyclables from the bin to the stairs leading down to the garage, and deeming that location the “staging area” from which future trips to the outside bin will be made, constitutes a good day’s work. And I say “without fear of contradiction” because the comments are hosed, and there’s no way for people to argue, unless they wish to take the matter up on twitter.
I banned a commenter this week for being tiresome. anonymous, mischaracterizing what I said, and wandering in just to pee on the carpet. One of the comments said, in effect, that there was nothing more pathetic than when Lileks goes on the internet to shill for coupons or free stuff - a reaction to complaining about a cheap coffeemaker, I assume. I guess you’re supposed to take it and like it, pal. I was also guilty of taking issue with something someone else said on a website.
It’s the anonymity that’s amusing. I wish everyone in comments used their own names, but I understand why most don’t. You get a nick, an online persona, and it’s a comfortable costume. You might be dressing up exactly as yourself and wearing a mask that looks like your face, but it’s still a costume. Or not? Discuss!
Oh, right Sorry. Anyway, there was more to the day than moving the recyclables. There was a nap which concluded with someone standing on stage and shouting “Release the Frogs of Freedom!” and I have no idea why. It was a play. I laid away for a minute, trying to recapture the events that led up to it, frustrated by the way of all fled into the shadows the moment the alarm went off. It’s possible I dreamed the entire play. Surely the line, being the last in the play, was supposed to send everyone out of the theater on a note of uplift - not because there were literal frogs, but because the character (a scrappy fellow, I seem to recall, looking like a French revolutionary) had triumphed in unexpected ways, and what had been a joke, a punchline, an object of derision, had come to stand for something wonderful and everyone was happy now and things were going to work, for once. Why? Well, turns out it was (wry chuckle) what you might call some frogs. Frogs of freedom.
It certainly beat the dream from which I wrested myself this morning; a cheap motel with mushroom-like shapes on the ceiling. When prodded with a pool cue they released thousands of tiny spiders. Again: BACKSTORY PLEASE. There was a long sequence of events that led to me poking the ceiling with a pool cue in a cheap motel.
Waking from sleep every morning is like burning the Library of Alexandria, if every book was written by Stephen King.
Not book, of course. Scrolls. They had scrolls. What I wouldn’t give to visit a great library of the ancient time, and read the scrolls. You suspect the literature got everything write, and the non-fiction got everything wrong. Well, some histories were accurate. But the science? “Amber is formed from the urine of foxes,” I believe was one of Pliny’s observations.
Now. Really. Perhaps people believed it because Pliny said so, but you can imagine his wife reading that, looking up, and saying “when did you ever see a fox urinate, let alone check whether it turned into amber?”
“I have it on good account from a Persian,” he probably said, and went back to work.
“Which one? The one who came here and cast horoscopes for everyone and said I would be with child this year and you would receive a million sesterces? That one? Who took the good silver?”
Here’s a question: would we feel the same interest and civilizational sympathy with the Romans if their main visual legacy - their architecture - was objectively, indisputably, inarguably ugly?
I mean, weird. Off-balance. Inorganic, out of proportion. You could say we think it’s not ugly because we inherited it, we’re used to it, and ascribe certain attributes to it (church, state; reason, order) but I think there’s something in the Greek and Roman style that’s as transcendent as classical music, because it reduced everything down to mathematical perfection. Even when they gussied it up and draped it with statuary and acanthus leaves, the formula was in the bones, and you knew it.
When I was a younger man I was nuts for the Corinthian order. I know, I know - oh that wild heedless prairie upbringing, racin’ with the moon in a Camero at night, heading for a small town where the old bank building might have Corinthian capitals.
Billy Jo, I hear tell that over in the next county there’s a Car-nig-ee li’bary what has the composite order, with the C’rinthian order married to the scrolls of the Ionic.
Nah, Bobby Ray, that’s just a legend.
We were wild that way. But it’s so ornate, and represents the inevitable state of any thriving society: you start with hard stoic Doric, move to solid Ionian, and finally splurge on frothy Corinthian because you’re loaded. And then everything goes to hell and it’s back to Doric. That’s a gross simplification that probably has no factual basis, but that’s how it feels.
The loss of the classical vernacular in architecture was inevitable, but tragic: we invented new ways for cities to look, and invented them all at once for everywhere, and the world did seem to be a different place that shook off the sodden caul of history. On the other hand, the new styles aged and died before our eyes, requiring new ones, and we remade things again, and again, ending up with style with no other purpose than catching the magpie-eye of the bauble hunter, appreciating the building for itself and nothing more. The Building of Tomorrow spends most of its life grousing in an ever-growing number of Yesterdays; the styles of our accumulated history brings the past right into the present and reminds us of the baggage we carry, the things we were. There’s not a classically-influenced church you couldn’t imagine with the Pope walking up the aisle. There’s not a modern spare church where you’d be surprised if someone took the pulpit and said “I’d like to talk to you about term life insurance.”
But those are the sentiments you’d expect from someone proud that he took out the recyclables halfway, and did not throw them out for good.
We return to the thrilling days of yore when FX were cheap and budgets ranged all the way up to $7.98 per episode. King! King of the Rocketmen!
Handy recap, same as before except HEY he's now in Rocketman gear, and looking juuuuust a bit like Maximillian Schell in the Hell sequence of "The Black Hole"/
Recap of Conway, whoever he is, being killed by Dirkin the Henchman. Since we know that Conway wasn't the Agent of Vulcan, who is? Rocketman / Jef King suspects Winslow, whoever he is. Back at the Stylish Apartment of the troublesome reporter gal who exists to expose Rocketman's existence and provide cliffhanger peril in alternating episodes, Reporter Gal hears the news of Conway's death from a Plot-Pointe (TM) radio. She doesn’t believe the scientist who was killed in the last episode committed suicide. She just doesn’t.
Let’s recall how he died:
The ol' auto-back-stab trick. Confounds the police! Invalidates your insurance policy!
Anyway, let's back up. I forgot to tell you how he got out of the cliffhanger, and I know everyone has been suspended on tenterhooks, legs flailing. Well, after the stabbing, Rocketman goes out the window, and we see some carvings and windows quite out of scale with our plummeting hero.
Lucky for Rocketman, he has one simple trick to stop his descent: WIRES.
Anyway, the reporter now thinks Dr. Vulcan . . . is JEFF KING! The Rocketman! Oh no! But yes.
Back at Science Associates, which has exactly one boardroom and no other offices as far as I can tell, Jeff discovers a hidden microphone that’s been feeding Evil Dr. Vulcan the information. Thinking quickly, he makes a bogus phone call about selling one of Science Associates’ projects, a Secret Firing Tube. He’s unaware that reporters - who breeze in and out of Science Associates without being troubled by security, - overhear the call and believe that Jeff is in league with Dr. Vulcan. They decided to interrupt the meeting to hand over the invention.
Stupid journalists. They completely screw up the meeting, and the Intrepid Reporter Gal is captured. Which means it’s time for Rocketman action!
There’s a fistfight in an airplane, which apparently needs no one at the controls. . . . the reporter is knocked out . . . the pilot hits the silk . . . the reporter wakes up . . . .
. . . .hey, that plane flies nice and straight on its own. Plunging to peril, or imperiled to the plunge, or diving fatally, or whatever, but at least it’s not corkscrewing. Fast, Rocketman! Get into the plane somehow!
That may not be flying, but it’s certainly falling with style. That gets funnier every time I see it.
However did they escape? Tune in tomorrow! Or rather next Wednesday.
More horrible French food, although for all I know it's delicious; hit the button over on the right. Work Blog between noon and one, but it'll be a short one.